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Chapter 47: Dream Sequence
Chapter 47: Dream Sequence
"Uhhhgh," Link said as he held his head. He rubbed his forehead, disheveling his green cap. He felt like he'd just dropped his brain in the mud and was trying to shake off the sludge. His blurry vision caught sight of something brown and solid in front of him. He reached his hand out for it, held on, and stood up. The rough, dry texture told him it was a rock. Shaking his head awake, he looked around. A like-like was sloughing forward nearby, dragging its jelly-like body along the wet grass. Other critters like rabbit fangs and pickit plants were scurrying around in the tall milkweeds, oblivious of his presence. He was back home. Although he couldn't quite recall how.
In fact, his entire memory was fuzzy, as he found when he tried to remember what the last thing he was doing was. He knew he was doing something before this, but couldn't recall what it was. For some reason, he knew he wasn't here before, but where was he? He leaned up against the rock, and brushed his eyes open, a displeased grimace on his face as he woke up.
Without warning, the animals stopped moving, as if frozen in time. They all slowly turned their heads and bodies to face Link, centering on him. Their eyes bore into his, and their jaws dropped in an unearthly manner, emitting a horrible tone.
Every monster started dragging, hopping, or in some other way sauntering over, slowly surrounding him. He could see a great circle of nearly every type of monster turning from their path and coming towards him, trapping him. With his back to the rock, he reached for his sword and found... nothing. His scabbard was empty.
He reached into his holding bag to get his rods... but that was empty too. Dry as a bone, like it had never held a thing. Link gulped in terror. He didn't even have his shield.
"Uh, nice monsters... go away, shoo."
Gnashing their teeth, licking their chops, and just burbling with anger, they closed in on him, their shadows growing larger and shrouding him in darkness. Link hunched himself into a ball.
Suddenly, he was covered in a blue diamond shell, the two halves spinning around fiercely in opposite directions. The animals that attacked him bounced back like rubber, leaving him unharmed.
A wall of flame burst out from somewhere and washed over the landscape. Link could feel the heat sweeping toward him, but the protective shield did its job, and he didn't feel the slightest pain. The rest of the monsters were consumed in the flames and either vanished or ran off with their tails between their legs.
Link, finding himself not dead or mauled, uncovered his face and looked around. The shield around him broke apart, and the area where he stood sharply darkened to night, shrouded in green-orange sky. The ground below him gave way to a low mist that covered his feet. A feminine silhouette appeared in the distance.
"Liiiink," it whispered.
"Hello? Who's there?"
The silhouette stepped forward, revealing herself as a young woman, her eyes shrouded in darkness.
"Zelda?" Link uttered. "You saved me? But you're not here."
"You're dreaming, Link."
"That- that's right, I am dreaming. I was... with Mega Man. In the other world. But I'm still talking to you. But this can't be. This doesn't feel like a dream."
"The telepathy still exists between us. I'm still in Hyrule, but I'm dreaming too. We can still speak across the dreamscape, no matter how much our physical distance is. Where are you?"
"I'm in Mega Man's world. I got kinda put here by accident. It's an interesting story actually. Hee, hee."
Zelda put her hands on her hips indignantly, as she always did whenever Link gave that sheepish grin of his. The elfish boy started his tale from when she last saw Mega Man, when they went to Kakariko Village to stop the invasion by the moblins. Link followed the battle in vivid, action-packed detail, at which Zelda tuned out for a bit. He finished up at the point where the cave was about to collapse in on itself.
"And since I had about a split-second to think, I dived into the portal and I ended up here."
"So the fourth Triforce piece was a fake," Zelda mused. "I suppose we should have realized that all along."
"Well, we needed to investigate it anyway. At least there won't be any more moblins around."
"It's good to know you're safe. I was starting to get worried, after word came that you had discovered an underground passage, I thought you were searching another temple."
"Yeah..." Link kicked the ground absent-mindedly. Although he had regaled his tale in fullest splendor, there was one section he had left out. He was sure he didn't want to tell her about it at the time, but now that he had a chance to reflect, maybe this was the righter thing to do. "Zelda, there's something I gotta tell you. Something I left out." He wasn't expecting to have to deal with this now. But it would be burning in his mind if he didn't say it.
"Yes, Link?" she asked with eager anticipation.
"When I was in the underground temple under the lost woods, we found a, sort of, hidden room. It's... well, maybe you oughta go check it out for yourself. It's important."
"Is that the one with the epigraphs of our predecessors."
"Epi-...? The what?"
"The legends. The stories of those who came before us. The other keepers of the Triforce."
"Wha... you know about that?"
"I'm the keeper of the Triforce of Wisdom. Of course I knew about that. All the royal family knows about that. How else do you think I knew you were the hero of destiny?"
"That temple was first known as the Temple of Time, the resting place of the Master Sword and the nexus of the Imprisoning War. Over various circumstances, natural and man-made, it was buried deep within the lost woods, but not before it was stocked with the knowledge of those who came before, so that their legends would live on. It was never found, but I knew of its existence."
"Uh-huh, well, that information could have been useful to me YESTERDAY!" He yelled out with fists shaking behind him. "Do you know how much I've thought about what this means for us? Do you know how much I've been agonizing over telling you this? No, you know what? Forget you. Do you know how much I've been agonizing over this myself?"
Zelda stood there, calm and cool, listening with empathy as Link spilled his guts. She could sense over the dreamscape that Link wasn't angry with her, but he was trying to purge himself of the emotions he was feeling. He didn't understand why she wasn't angry at this situation.
"Don't you feel manipulated? Coerced?" Link demanded to know.
Zelda shook her head.
He said, "You've been forced into doing something that you had no say over. Everyone else gets to choose how they want to live their life, but our lives... they've had their choice ripped away."
"Link, none of our lives have any choice. We're all fated for something. We're all being led on a path some way somewhere. That's our destiny. That's the way the goddesses planned it."
Link was flabbergasted. "Are you telling me you like the idea of having our lives led for us? You like the idea of having to always protect Hyrule whenever evil covers the land? For all of time?"
"But it's not us. It's our descendants. They may not be of our bloodline, but we are their predecessors. If we didn't defeat the evil, there would be no future generations of Hyrule to defend it."
"Doesn't it bother you that we'll never find peace though? I mean, according to those legends, the evil is never going to die. Never. It'll never be defeated. We'll always be fighting and fighting until the end of time." He slunk back against the rock. "There will never be peace in Hyrule."
"How can you say that?" Zelda said with feminine anger. "There's peace there right now."
"It's only temporary. Ganon will come back. He'll never stop coming back."
"The price of peace is eternal vigilance. Unless you want to restrict the freedom of Hyrule citizens. Post guards at every home. Confiscate all weapons and magic. Border up towns. That sort of thing."
Link looked away, unhappy at being put in an impossible question.
Zelda continued. "It's not so bad, really. The evil comes out, we put it back in. Life goes on. There are things to do in between those times. You have a choice then. You can explore the world. You can make your own path. Once, the goddesses left it up to us to choose our hero, to initiate the keepers of the Triforce. It didn't work. We looked to the one who had come before, but he was long gone. And this is what happened."
Zelda waved her arm back and the darkness lifted. The sky brightened to high noon. And Link found himself standing on a tiny island in the middle of a great sea. Squinting his eyes, adjusting to the sudden brightness, Link dashed his head around, standing up like a rod from where he was leaning against the rock. There was nothing but a wide blue plain, pulsating with blue water lapping at the shore of the round ball of land. The expanse of water was enormous, never had Link seen anything like it. He'd never even seen the sea and suddenly felt very small.
"What? Where is this?" Link asked as he treaded the edge of the island, trying to look past the horizon.
"This is... was Hyrule. When the seal of the Sages broke, Ganon was free, and there was no hero to protect us. So the goddesses did the only thing they could do. They flooded the land. Endless rain. Endless, until there was nothing left but a few mountaintops. But the evil was suppressed, deep within the castle under the sea. And the people adapted to life on the Great Sea. Ganondorf broke free of the surface and created a fortress in a lone corner of the ocean to regroup his takeover. At that point, the hero appeared, thankfully. He recovered the Triforce, re-sealed Ganondorf away, and drained away the water." Zelda walked up behind Link and put a hand on his shoulder. "That's why you are so important, Link."
"Then it was true," Link muttered, thinking about all the lore and history that had been revealed to him. The truth was staring him right in the face, he had just never accepted it.
"The 'what' that happens is something we don't have control over. The 'how' of what we do about it is completely up to us. The goddesses simply set the game board. We decide how we want to move."
Link made a defiant guttural noise. "But the only way to win is not to play."
"Even gods make mistakes, I suppose. We didn't start this, and I'm sorry for that. But we're the only ones who can end it. And we have free will in that regard. We're the most important people in the shaping of Hyrule's future. The gods chose wisely," she paused. "I don't know anyone better I'd want holding the Triforce of Courage."
Link tore his eyes away from the empty void before him for the first time and looked at Zelda. She was smiling sweetly at him with her hands clasped in front of her dress. He felt a sensation on the back of his hand and looked at it. The mark of the Triforce was glowing, highlighting his piece.
"We match," she said with a small laugh, and held up her hand as well. It was glowing with the same triangle symbol, only the highlighted piece was on the left side.
"We can make Hyrule better," she said.
Link looked from his symbol to her's for a moment, then put his hand back down. "When did you get so smart?"
"Triforce of Wisdom, remember?" Zelda smiled as she pointed at her hand.
"So when are you going to get back?"
"Not sure. Apparently, Mega Man's owner, or programmer, or keeper... well, he got injured while he was in my world. And the machine he used to get him here is broken. So when he gets out of the infirmary, he'll be able to fix it back up and send me home."
"Infirmary? They can't use a healing fairy?"
"They have no healing fairies. They have no magic."
"No magic... whatsoever?"
"No magic," Link repeated. "No fire rod, no magic potions, not even my lantern works. So I've been feeling kinda useless here. But they've been really accepting of me in the mean time. They've got plenty of interesting things to eat. And Mega Man even has a sister. She took me shopping yesterday. All the people here are nothing like you've ever seen. Everyone tries to sell you something. And none of the women wear any clothes practically."
Zelda opened her eyes as wide as dinner plates in surprise, then concern, then anger.
"Er, not that I've noticed," Link amended.
"Well, I'm glad you're having a good time," she said sarcastically.
"But the world is full of mechanical men, just like Mega Man. They're hundreds of them. Like there are two races in the world, competing for dominance. You could cut the tension with a knife. I know he said we were too separated for our own good, but his world is too close together. They're packed in so tightly, they have to build buildings up to the sky. It's like the world is brimming with war. There's even this guy Dr. Wily-" Link's eyes suddenly struck large, upon his realization. "Oh no, the gas! He's still out there. He left something in the house and he gassed me. I've been gassed! Poison gas! I need to wake up! Wake up! Wake up, Link!"
Link found himself shouting 'wake up' into the carpet. His nose was squished against the floor, in between the couch and the coffee table.
"Wha?" He pushed himself on his hands and knees and looked around. The green gas was gone, perhaps diffused or sucked away by the ventilators. He was alive and back in Mega Man's world. But he had a massive headache.
"Uhhhgh," Link said as he held his head. He propped himself back up on the couch, closed his eyes, and held his throbbing head, resting his elbows on his knees.
"...R.A.I.D. and several other anti-robot organizations have set up camp outside the Civil Robot Defense Holding Facility, demanding the permanent deactivation of Mega Man."
"What?" he said to the voice. He then realized that it was the rectangle portal to the Computer, giving the news. There was a different woman this time, narrating over a live picture of a large crowd of people holding signs and looking angry outside a fenced-in building.
"The unusual amount of protestors has prompted police guards to mobilize outside the facility to prevent unauthorized access to Mega Man. Police Chief Muggins stated in a press conference that he fears rioting may occur, and so has brought out all necessary precautions."
The screen switched to a fat man speaking in front of a short stick attached to a podium. "Due to the volatile nature of the circumstances of Mega Man's detainment, we've decided to mobilize the riot prevention measures at this time. I stress that this is only in effort to ensure that peace is kept and that the detainee does not become a victim of mob justice."
"Mob justice?" Link repeated incredulously.
The screen went back to the reporter. "Some people say they've seen individuals toting EMP weapons and other anti-robot guns. If Mega Man is taking out of the facility publicly, he is a likely target for a civilian assassination."
"Assassination!" Link replied. "I've got to get over there now!"
Link gathered his stuff and headed out the door. Fifteen seconds later, he realized he had no idea where he was going.
Next Chapter: Protest